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Coldstream resident seeks hot air balloon adventure

Greg Erickson’s bucket list includes a ride during Vernon Winter Carnival Balloon Glow
Greg Erickson, 66, a resident of Coldstream’s Lamton House for individuals with cognitive and medical needs, hopes to add to his impressive resumé of lifetime adventures with a hot air balloon ride. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

How cool would it be for Capt. Coldstream to add a hot air balloon ride to his never-ending list of life adventures?

Greg Erickson thinks it would be great. Especially with the Balloon Glow kicking off the 63rd Vernon Winter Carnival Feb. 3, 2023. Erickson is hoping to hitch a balloon ride.

“I’ve never done it before and I want to see what it’s like. I love flying,” said Erickson, 66, a resident of Coldstream’s Lamton House which looks after individuals with cognitive and medical needs.

His bedroom wall has posters of Captain America (who happens to be one of his favourite people), Batman and Superman taped up, a testament to super heroes who can fly. He simply smiled and laughed when asked if it was alright to call him Capt. Coldstream.

“I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane in my 20s. I wasn’t scared.”

Flying is certainly not a problem for Erickson, who has been to Hawaii, Las Vegas (“I liked winning,” he chuckled) and Disneyworld. He wants to go to Disneyland.

Born in Fort St. James in B.C.’s north central region, Erickson spent a good deal of his life in Salmon Arm. He was a valued employee at the Canadian Tire store there, along with McDonald’s, where he fried hamburgers. He also worked in a shelter, a restaurant and a workshop.

Erickson had a stint in the navy, where he “just marched around,” then “stood still with a curved sword.”

“That was tiring,” he said.

He loves building things out of wood, and his favourite place inside Lamton House is at his craft table. On this day, Erickson is wearing a necklace he made. He likes to help out people, so he’s helping house staff with Christmas cards.

“I do lots of crafts and I like watching TV,” said Erickson. Asked if there was anything he didn’t do around the house, Erickson sheepishly grinned and said, “I have trouble keeping my room clean.”

Erickson arrived in the North Okanagan in June, but has spent almost as much time in hospital as he has at Lamton House. Still, when he’s in the home, Erickson brightens the place up.

“He can make everybody smile,” said Lamton manager Michelle Turner, who sits in on the interview with Erickson, and who had to stifle a laugh about him cleaning up his room. “He has an amazing soul and he’s such a beautiful person.”

Finishing off the interview, we learn Erickson is a Trekkie (loves the Star Trek series), a James Bond fan with his favourite Bond movie being From Russia With Love, and also does a mean Clint Eastwood impersonation: “Go ahead punk - make my day.”

He likes wrestling and hockey, and doing target practice with a bow and arrow because “I’m nervous with guns. No guns for me.”

Making Erickson’s day would be that hot air balloon ride in February. If you can help, contact Turner at 250-503-2333 (w) or 236-873-0469 (c).

READ MORE: Record-smashing year for North Okanagan Valley Gleaners

READ MORE: Warm meals feed Vernon’s homeless over holidays

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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